In the government’s sale disposition of BC Rail, there are compelling indicators of massive fraud. Even worse, senior provincial officials interfered with investigation and prosecution of these crimes. Having directed the asset disposal and wanting to avoid revelation of duplicity, Premier Campbell’s office chose to pervert the administration of justice.
Important public agencies and individuals cooperated or at least provided passive acceptance of fraud. Political analyst Will McMartin has written about a “tight coterie of business people who have been favoured with high-powered political appointments since 2001.” Some of these people have been near the centre of the BCR cover-up.
Bill Tieleman provided an interesting report of Brian Kenning’s testimony at the Basi/Virk trial. Defence lawyers questioned Kenning about:
“…his personal connections to a number of key figures in the political and corporate world, including CN Rail chair David McLean, B.C. Liberal Party insider Patrick Kinsella, former B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins, B.C. Rail chair John McLernan, Alan Wallace of CIBC World Markets (which handled the billion dollar sale of B.C. Rail), and former B.C. Rail CEO Bob Phillips.”
Ian Reid, in Why the BC Rail deal sucks. And why you should care discussed the issue of investigative bias given the family relationship between lead RCMP investigator Kevin DeBruyckere and BC Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichart. Reid wrote about Special Prosecutor Berardino’s “attempt to restrict the defence and ensure large chunks of the defence’s case – and supporting evidence – was ruled inadmissible.” From Reid’s article:
“With the end of Brian Kennings pitiful testimony, Gary Collins was next on the stand. The prosecution knew when they lost the admissability argument in June that this was going to be a difficult moment. And in a two-week period leading up to the October 18 trial resumption they lowered their plea bargain offer from four years in federal prison to two years of house arrest with lots of allowances, while the government kicked in $6million and a non-disclosure agreement to sweeten the deal.”
Now Alex Tsakumis has reported that former Liberal Attorney General Wally Oppal, once a Supreme Court judge, was the go-between when $6-million cash from government topped up Berardino’s offer of slap-on-the-wrist non-custodial sentences in return for an end to the trial. From Alex’s exclusive report:
“I have it on excellent authority that his was the pivotal role in getting the deal done. In fact, I have someone who was directly connected to the process.”
This is not Alex Tsakumis’ first important revelation. His blog entries are like flowing water, steadily scouring the supports that keep BC Liberals alive. The BC Rail fiasco may ultimately ruin careers and reputations of politicians, lobbyists, police investigators, business executives, journalists, lawyers and at least one judge.
Many people know large parts of the truth of BC Rail. Silence has been purchased with contracts and directorships but the provincial government’s ability to sustain financial favours is waning. Bitterness over greed of a relatively small number of Liberal insiders ensures the party’s destruction. Recent polling indicates the trend is firmly established; the governing party will disappear. Conservatives, with no members in the legislature, now have almost 2/3 of the voter support held by the Liberal Party, represented by 48 sitting MLA’s. In addition, the NDP front bench under Adrian Dix seems by comparison, competent, knowledgeable and trustworthy, ready to form government.
An important factor that plays against the Campbell/Clark administration is the growth in independent reporting and punditry. The online world has changed the landscape. Readers don’t have a relationship with just one news organization. I paraphrase Tom Rosenstiel, in a presentation at USC Annenberg School for Communication:
The Internet presents an opportunity for individual journalists. You don’t need to work at the Vancouver Sun anymore to be a significant journalist in Vancouver. Professional journalists have lost their status as the only gatekeepers.
And now, even writers who have been minding the gates for the Liberal Party are slipping away, admitting, as both Keith Baldrey and Vaughn Palmer have done in print recently, that Liberal governance has been far less than perfect during its entire tenure.